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Volunteers, making a better Australia
12 May 2003

Melbourne: This week, from 12 to 18 May, Australians are celebrating their 14th National Volunteer Week with the theme "Volunteers, making a better Australia".

"This week is very important in terms of recruitment (and) also remembering the contribution volunteers make to society," says Sha Cordingley, CEO of Volunteering Australia, the country’s national volunteer coordinating body.

Currently, 4.4 million Australians volunteer throughout the year, generating AUS$ 42 billion annually for the country’s economy. It is also estimated that each family in Australia relies on work of more than 20 volunteers weekly.

National Volunteer Week celebrations entail numerous activities organized by various volunteer and community organizations around the country to promote the value of volunteering and encourage more people to volunteer.

Volunteering Queensland (VQ), for example, will hold a Volunteer Expo to enhance "volunteering pathways for people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds". The organization is also giving out awards for "Community Heroes", or outstanding volunteers who rendered exemplary local community work. The contest is sponsored by the country's largest electricity company, ENERGEX.

Volunteering Western Australia is organizing "Bridge to Volunteer", an informal introduction to volunteering for first-time volunteers and those who are seeking different volunteer experiences. In addition, it is also holding a "Coordinators’ Network", a workshop for volunteer managers to exchange ideas and developments on volunteering.

Volunteering New South Wales (NSW) recently launched a fund-raising campaign to benefit the Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) to mark the week. The ‘Bush FireWise Raffle’ gives Australians the opportunity to support volunteering and win AUS$ 20,000 worth of prizes. RFSA represents 70,000 volunteer firefighters and are responsible for 90 per cent of fire fighting work and protect 1,200 towns and villages within the state.

The National Volunteer Week was first inaugurated in December 1989 and was Australia’s first collaborative effort to promote national volunteerism.

Visit Australia’s first national volunteer recruitment web site, to find volunteering opportunities.